Report of the Southern Alberta Geographical Rep to the Prairie Region Triennial Convention, April 21-23, 2017. This report covers the 2014-17 PRC term.
Southern Alberta Geographic Representative
In 2015 Sister Sherry Hunt stepped down as the Southern Alberta Geographic Representative. I was first alternate and it has been my pleasure to represent PSAC members in the Southern Alberta area since taking oath in November, 2015.
In the time I have been the Southern Alberta Geographic Rep, there has been a federal election and provincial elections in all three Prairie Provinces. Bargaining has been an ongoing issue: Some components finally completed successful contract negotiations after long, hard, dedicated work on the part of bargaining teams. Some tables are still negotiating, some may need arbitration, and some are starting negotiations all over again. We held firm about not giving up sick leave. I have little doubt it will remain something we have to remain firm on and I am sure we will also be defending our pensions. One thing I see in Southern Alberta is how dedicated our members are, participating in Days of Action, letter writing campaigns, and other events.
There is still a major issue that we must hold the government accountable for: the disaster that is the Phoenix Payroll system. It has taken a court challenge by PSAC to get the admission government did not listen to us or our members about this system. They are to be consulting and keeping PSAC advised as they try to fix everything that has gone wrong. We know there are still thousands of cases waiting to be resolved.
Some of the highlights during my time as Southern Alberta Geographical Rep have been:
I was a UDP participant in 2015, from January 2015 to September 2015. Fellow PRC members Sherry Hunt, Murray Pruden, Michelle Lang and Shannon Blum were also in my UDP class.
I participated in one PRC teleconference in the late fall. We were already staring to plan the 2017 Regional Triennial.
I participated in the PSAC picnic boycotting National Public Service Week in June, 2015, manned PSAC booths at Fiestaval in July, GlobalFest in August, 2015 and the Labour Day BBQ organized by Calgary Labour Council.
In addition to volunteering at the PSAC booth at GlobalFest, I was the closing speaker at the GlobalFest Human Rights Forum on Cultural Healing.
August 2015 I participated in a rally at Stephen Harper’s office in Calgary to support CUPW’s save door to door delivery campaign.
December 7, 2015 I attended the PSAC Education Planning Session held in Calgary.
January 24, 2016, I gave a presentation on PRC at a TUB/Grievance Handling course.
June 9, 2016, I attended the Prairies Regional Women’s Conference in Winnipeg. I was part of the steering committee, but I have to say it was one of the best conferences I have been to.
June 25, 2016 I volunteered at the PSAC booth for Aboriginal Days at the Indian Village on the Stampede Grounds. Victoria Norris of the Human Rights Committee organized the event, which was well attended and our PSAC tent was popular.
September 5, 2016 Area Council, Human Rights Committee, and RWC participated in the CDLC’s Labour Day BBQ. We served 200 slices of cake, contributed to the bbq by donating the condiments for the event, and operated our “wheel of fortune” game. We covered a table with craft paper and had people write down why they celebrated Labour Day or what it meant to them, generating some conversation on the meaning/history of Labour Day. There was very good attendance for this event.
September 29, 2016 the Calgary committees jointly held an “ice cream social” on the lawn of the Harry Hays Building, which I attended. We had 300 members from at least 6 different components participate. The event celebrated PSAC’s 50th Anniversary and invited members to participate in committee work. I worked with Matthew Brent, the regional political communications officer at the time, to produce a 50th Anniversary button for distribution to the members at the ice cream social.
The Calgary Sisters in Spirit Vigil was October 6, 2016. Every year Calgary RWC partners with Awo T’aan Healing Lodge and other community groups for this event. I served on the planning committee. I was able to collaborate with Matthew Brent, the regional political communications officer at the time, on a sticker that combined the PSAC logo, the Sister in Spirit logo and the Vigil’s theme “Healing through truth and reconciliation” on it. It was used to seal the 500 brown bag lunches distributed to participants. We also provided the PSAC Idle No More Slap Fans, which were well used in the march/rally to Olympic Plaza. This was largest Vigil so far in its 12-year history.
There was an art project developed by two indigenous teenaged sisters that ran in conjunction with Sisters in Spirit Vigil called FOOTPRINTS: An Art Project. They collected shoes, with each pair representing a murdered or missing Indigenous woman or child. They hoped to collect 1200 pairs – they got over 1500. Calgary RWC did a small blitz and was able to contribute 200 pairs of gently used shoes from members in Calgary, Red Deer and Bowden. Displayed in Olympic Plaza it made quite an impact:
November 2, 2016 I participated in the “Make Good on Your Word” letter writing campaign, sending my letter to Prime Minister Trudeau.
November 22 and 25, 2016 I attended the CLiFF festival. Calgary attendance doubled from last year. Lethbridge’s CLiFF had very good participation with 90 or more people at their event. Area Councils
November 27, 2016 I attended (Dis)Placed: Indigenous Youth and The Child Welfare System at the Glenbow Museum. The film launch included a panel discussion featuring the film maker Melissa Britain, Dr. Cindy Blackstock (Executive Director of the First Nationals Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and a leading advocate for First Nations children), individuals from the film, as well as Indigenous community leaders.
December 7, 2016 I participated in the CLC’s campaign to lobby MP’s about Bill C-27. I contacted my MP, Kent Hehr, and tried to arrange a face to face meeting. I was advised he would call me and I am still waiting for his call as I write this report.
December 14, 2016 I participated in the online Vegreville campaign, sending my letter in support of leaving the processing centre in Vegreville to Minister McCallum.
December 22, 2016 a regional campaign advocating for a National Childcare Program called “No More Fairy Tales” was launched. This campaign ends March, 2017.
The Lethbridge and Calgary RWC’s began working together on the project at the Prairie Regional Women’s Conference. It consists of four monthly online postcards tied to the campaign’s page, which outlines the purpose of the campaign and allows members of PSAC (and the public too) to send a letter to their provincial and federal representatives asking them to move forward with implementing a national childcare program. The link is: http://e-activist.com/page/4761/action/1 This was the first card:
Jeffrey Vallis, our regional political communications officer worked hard to come up with images that matched our vision, as well as creating the letter and URL for people to visit.
I issue a newsletter that keeps component locals, committees and councils in the loop on what PRC is doing, as well as highlighting their activities or issues that trending. In each newsletter I solicit input, encourage contact should they have questions or concerns, and ask what they would like to know about PRC; I believe this is in keeping with the spirit of Resolution Gen004 passed at the 2014 Regional Triennial in Saskatoon.
I am part of the Communications Committee of the PRC. We try to promote, encourage and improve communications so that PRC communications, at all levels, is effective, efficient and responsive to the needs of the union and its members. We have been examining ways to improve the website to increase user friendliness, we have worked to help “brand” things like tents/table cloths/banners/promotional items to have a common look/feel with the cogs image and using the phrase “Union Pride Prairie Wide”. We recognize that sometimes communications do not seem to come down to members in a timely manner, and we are working to improve that!
As a PRC member, I attended town hall meetings, webinars, rallies, and actively participated in Council meetings. There is always lots of good debate around the Council Table and I have learned so much by being a part of it. We do have our differences, but we try to be respectful of them. I would also like to recognize the assistance we receive from the Regional Office staff – they help us so much.
I cannot finish this report without mentioning our late Sister, Judy Shannon. She spent 20 years as an activist and mentor, and delivered countless seminars and workshops with her colleagues across the country. She had a passionate interest in women’s issues, social justice, and the political process. For many of us, I think, she helped us to truly see how the Union could contribute to these issues as well as many more. For me, she was an inspiration and I am hoping I can meet the standards she set. She taught me that passionate and dedicated members, willing to stand up for the rights and beliefs of others, are important. She also taught me not to be afraid should I find I am standing alone. For those members who didn’t meet or know Judy, but took courses through PSAC, you have been touched by her already. There isn’t a course being offered today that doesn’t have her “stamp” on it.
Finally, please enjoy convention!!! It will be a very exhilarating experience and you will find you make contacts that can last a lifetime.
Southern Alberta Geographic Representative